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#4920: Re: #4799 Driver replies to Corbett on hope (fwd)

From: "Tom F. Driver" <tfd3@columbia.edu>

My friend Bob Corbett, whom I know only through the electronic medium of
this list, has once again announced his no-hope-for-Haiti theme.  And
once again, although I am well aware that hope for Haiti seems to get
more rather than less difficult as time goes by, I must beg him not to
speak in such a way as to dampen the hope that does exist for Haiti
among its people and their friends.  This is not, I think, just a
question of personal taste (some like hope and some donn't) but a matter
of life and death.

Bob's philosophy seems to be that the most important thing for him to do
is to alleviate physical suffering in Haiti with immediate and direct
local intervention.  In this he reminds me of Mother Theresa, who
devoted her life to caring for the sick, and whose advice was to
minister to each sick and dying person one by one.  Although there's no
doubt that she did some good, it is also arguable that she did as much
harm as good through her refusal to attempt any cure of the CAUSES of
the ills that afflicted not only her wards but also millions more.  She
could have lifted her voice in favor of social change, but did not.

Bob wrote:

        I would accept ... the belief that WERE there a caring and
        serving state in Haiti that tried to make the basics of life
        secure for the people it would be an infinitely better
        situation.  But that state is not there in Haiti and doesn't
        exist and I think never has in the history of the nation.  The
        effort it would take (if any effort would do) to make that state
        worth having, is simply a battle that doesn't attract me.  It
        seems like an utterly losing battle and that's why I am such a
        seeming pessimist as to think (and act on that thought) that
        there is no hope for HAITI.

I would think it important for Bob the philosopher to be asking the
question WHY there has never been a Haitian state that tries to make the
basic of life secure for the people.  Since he's an atheist he surely
cannot believe that some God or other has brought this about.  Is it then
Fate or what the ancient Greeks called Anke (Necessity)?  Or is it the
actions of human beings?  If the latter, as I believe, then change is
possible.  Even in Haiti.

Gina Ulysse (Aug. 10) has reminded readers that hope exists in Haiti in
spite of overwhelming odds.  When I was last in Haiti, a few
months ago, I had good conversation with members of a youth organization
in a mountain area.  They were full of hope -- for their own future,
their community's future, and that of Haiti.  They were also asking for
solidarity in their struggle against Haiti's anti-democratic forces and
the latter's allies in the United States, of whose strength they were
quite well aware.  I feel, therefore, that there is a link between these
youths' hope and mine. Hopelessness is a luxury that they cannot afford
and one in which I believe I should not indulge.

Tom Driver

Tom F. Driver
Sheffield, MA